Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9AM-5PM M-F

703-324-1460
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Parkway
Suite 905, Fairfax, VA 22035

Laura Grape,
Executive Director

Native Seedling Sale

2021 Seedling Sale Packages Are Sold Out! 

We are overwhelmed and surprised at how quickly the Seedling Sale packages sold out and yet we are so pleased that the demand for natives has grown exponentially.  We increased the number of packages available this year in response to the growing interest in 2020. It is important for us to balance the needs of the community and ecological benefit with the feasibility of a larger sale and the safety of our staff as they hand-package the seedlings and support the preparations necessary to host this sale during a pandemic. 

The nurseries that grow our seedlings sold out of the species we included in this year’s packages, so we will not be able to offer additional packages this year.  We see the growing demand and will take this into consideration when we place our order for seedlings this coming fall for the spring 2022 sale. 

We understand if you are disappointed and hope you will explore other native plant sales occurring throughout the Northern Virginia region this spring, like those promoted by Plant NOVA Natives

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Join our Mailing Lists

You can sign up to be notified when the seedling sale is announced or when rain barrels and composter workshops are available by following the links below:

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The seedling sale pickup will be Friday, April 16 from 9am-4pm and Saturday, April 17, 2021 from 9am-12pm at Sleepy Hollow Bath and Racquet Club, 3516 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church VA 22044. Any seedlings not collected at pickup will be donated to a reforestation project in Fairfax County. Seedlings must be purchased in advance, no day of sales or extras will be offered.

This year, we have a few changes to the seedling sale due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Masks and social distancing will be required at all times
  • Hand sanitizer will be available
  • Please do not attend if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who does
  • No day-of sales or extras
  • We are conducting contract tracing so expect name, email, and phone number to be collected at pickup if your name is not on the purchase order
  • Any seedlings not collected at pickup will be donated to a reforestation project in Fairfax County
  • No refunds will be offered

We understand this is an unusual time. We look forward to seeing you at the 2021 seedling sale! Please contact NVSWCD prior to the seedling sale date should you require accommodations.

The 2021 bare-root seedling sale features small shrubs and trees which are hardy in small spaces and bear gorgeous flowers and fruits, and display beautiful colors. The fruits and flowers that these plants grow are important food sources to birds and pollinators! By planting these native species, you are directly contributing to the betterment of our environment. The plants in each package clean our water and air, prevent soil erosion, provide valuable habitat, and add beauty to your property. You can see this year's seedling ribbon colors and learn tips and tricks for planting your seedling in the Fairfax County Tree Basics Booklet from NVSWCD and the Fairfax County Tree Commission.

 

Meet the Seedlings

Super Shrub & Tiny Tree Package (8 Seedlings for $17)

 

2 Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)- Blue Ribbon 

silky dogwoodReaching 6-12' in height, this small tree grows best in full to part sun and moist to wet soil. During the summer months, white flowers grow in clusters between the lush green leaves. Birds and small mammals are delighted by the proliferation of blue berries. As the weather cools and fall begins, the leaves will turn to orange, red, or purple. Hardiness Zone: 4-8.

 

2 Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)- Green Ribbon

common buttonbushA hardy shrub, the buttonbush will grow to 6-12’ in height in a wide range of sun availability and can tolerate flooding up to 36”.  Plant buttonbush along pond edges or wetlands, where the soil is moist to wet. Cream colored flowers shaped like starbursts will fill the summer air with their fragrance. During the fall, the leaves change to a yellow-green color. Fruit decorates the shrub from September to January. The buttonbush will benefit butterflies, beneficial insects, waterfowl, and small mammals. Hardiness Zone: 4-10.

 

2 American Hazelnut (Corylus Americana)- Orange Ribbon

Photos of American HazelnutThe American Hazelnut will grow 10-15' in partial sun and variety of soil moisture. This hardy shrub will form edible nuts in late summers which songbirds, butterflies, and small mammals love. Their broad, heart-shaped leaves are dark green most of the year and turn yellow in the fall. In early spring, you may catch sight of small red flowers and light brown catkins protruding from the branch tips. Hazelnut does well along fence lines, hillsides, and in floodplain forests. Hardiness Zone: 4-9.

 

2 Eastern Redbud (Cercis candensis)- Pink Ribbon

eastern redbudThis beautiful tree stretches to 20-35’ in height. The eastern redbud grows in part to full shade paired with dry to moist soils. The spring weather ushers in delicate pink and lavender flowers which are sure to delight. Redbud changes colors in the fall yet maintains its beauty by transforming into a golden yellow. Butterflies, small mammals, and songbirds benefit from the tree, which also fixes nitrogen in the soil. Hardiness Zone: 5-9.

 

Space Savers and Bountiful Berries Package (8 Seedlings for $17)

 

2 New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)- White Ribbon

new jersey teaOnly 3’ in height, this small shrub is perfect for beautifying small open spaces with dry soils. Clusters of small white flowers dot the green-leaved shrub from May to September. Once fall begins, New Jersey Tea shrub shifts to a yellow-tan color and provides black fruit for butterflies, songbirds, and small mammals. Hardiness Zone: 3-9.

 

 

2 Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)- Yellow Ribbon

Photos of Northern SpicebushSpicebushes are famous for their brilliant red berries which carry a peppery taste and smell. You can catch these iconic berries from September to October and your yard will be full of songbirds, small mammals, and songbirds who adore them. This fragrant bush does well in sandy to loam soils and in partial to full shade. They prefer a wetter soil on wooded slopes or floodplain forests where they grow 6.5' to 16' tall. Don't miss their yellow blooms in late spring and yellow fall foliage. Hardiness Zone: 4-9.

 

2 Aromatic Sumac (Rhus aromatic)- Red Ribbon

aromatic sumacThis 6’ shrub grows best in full to part sun and dry soils. Aromatic sumac, also known as fragrant sumac, does well on slopes and rocky areas. Fuzzy red wine-colored berries grow in edible clusters between aromatic leaves from July until March. The leaves change with the seasons; when summer turns to fall, the green leaves turn to red. The aromatic sumac provides a high wildlife value for butterflies, songbirds, and small mammals. Hardiness Zone: 4-8.

 

2 American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)- Purple Ribbon

Beautyberry photosBeautyberry grows up to 6’ in dry to moist soils under full to partial sun. Lavender-pink flowers bloom along the shrub from June to August, and lavender berries begin to grow from September to March. Songbirds and small mammals benefit from this plant. Hardiness Zone:  6-10.

 

 

 

Hardiness Zone

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows 10 different zones, each of which represents an area of winter hardiness for plants. Fairfax County falls into zones 6b-7a. All of our seedlings are suited for planting in the greater Washington, DC area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some of our most frequently asked Seedling Sale questions and helpful answers from NVSWCD staff.

 

What’s the skinny on the Seedling Sale?

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District holds a Native Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale each spring. The theme and exact species vary from year to year. Orders have now closed. In 2021, the seedlings will be available for pickup with COVID safety guidelines at the Sleepy Hollow Bath and Racquet Club in Falls Church on Friday April 16 from 9am-4pm and Saturday April 17, 2021 from 9am-12pm.

When should I place my order?

Orders for 2021 have now closed. Please order early! We often sell out of packages in the first week of ordering.  

Are there extras? Can I just show up at pickup?

No, in-person sales will not be available this year in an effort to reduce crowding at the pickup to be compliant with COVID safety precautions.

Can my spouse/child/parent/neighbor/best friend pick up my order for me?

Yes. They will need to have your first and last name and a generally honest disposition. A printout of the order confirmation is helpful but not required. At pickup, the contact's name, phone number, and email will be required to comply with contact tracing. We understand this is an unusual time. Please contact NVSWCD prior to the seedling sale date should you require accommodations.

What happens if I miss the pickup date?

Don’t miss the pickup date! If you can’t make it, please send a friend! (See above.) We understand this is an unusual time. Please contact NVSWCD prior to the seedling sale date should you require accommodations. There will be no seedling order pickups after the sale. If your order is not collected on the pickup date, it will be donated to a reforestation project in Fairfax County. Seedling sale purchases are nonrefundable.

How large are the packages?Small boy and girl hold seedling packages

Smaller than you might think! These are first- and second-year bare-root trees and shrubs, which means they are small and come without soil. We add a colored ribbon, put together each package, and wrap the roots in wet newspaper and a plastic bag to keep them moist. In the photo at right, each child is holding one package. Each package of 8 seedlings bundled together is typically 1-3 feet long and 4-6 inches wide.

What were last year's ribbon colors?

Check out our new page, Previous Years' Seedling Ribbon Colors, for species names and the color of the ribbon (flagging tape) we used to identify it. You can see this year's seedling ribbon colors and tips and tricks for planting your seedling in the Fairfax County Tree Basics Booklet from NVSWCD and the Fairfax County Tree Commission. 

What should I bring with me for pickup?

A small bucket or basket. You don’t want the package to tip over and spill water on your backseat. Don’t have a bucket? A sturdy double paper bag or large trash bag will do the job.

How do I care for them?

You can learn about bare root seedling care (as well as other tree-related advice) in the Fairfax County Tree Basics Booklet from NVSWCD and the Fairfax County Tree Commission. Keep the roots moist and plant your seedlings as soon as possible. We provide a planting guide when you pick up your seedlings. Dig a hole wider than it is deep. We recommend watering throughout the summer for the first year, especially if your tree or shrub is in direct sunlight. Fertilizer is not needed. A light top-dressing of leaf mulch is optional. 

How fast will they grow?

The seedlings typically start out in a dormant state, but when cared for properly, they can grow into lovely landscape specimens faster than you think. Each species has a different growing speed. Since it can be difficult to protect a small first-year seedling from mowers, deer, rabbits and – occasionally – human feet, we include two of every species in the packages.

Rarely – once every several years – we have had a supplier issue (not VDOF) where a large number of seedlings of a particular shrub or tree have not survived. In those cases, we give feedback to the supplier and monitor their seedlings in following years to ensure that it is not a repeat occurrence. Even when that happens, we believe the benefit and low cost we offer by purchasing in bulk outweighs the risk. It’s still a great deal!

Where do you get the seedlings?

Typically we get most of our seedlings from the Virginia Department of Forestry. We like to support our state forestry department and help increase demand for native trees and shrubs. We also purchase seedlings from other neighboring states and private nurseries.

What are the funds used for?

Good question! First, the funds cover the cost of the seedlings and associated program costs. NVSWCD uses any leftover funds to support educational programs, including the high school Envirothon competition, biological stream monitoring, storm drain education, Youth Conservation Camp, Science Fair awards, and other outreach activities. Thank you for supporting these efforts through the Seedling Sale!

Have more questions? Feel free to contact us.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant